hand-stitched pojagi table mat with title.

The piece I vowed I would never make again

This is the piece I vowed I would never make again. I do like how it looks, but there is an interesting story behind it.

When I was studying pojagi in Korea, my teacher chose most of my projects for me. She started with simple projects, and gradually they became more difficult. She specifically chose projects to introduce new techniques and skills.

The purpose of this project was to teach me the traditional reversible patchwork seam.

It is made with fine ramie fabric and silk thread.

When she came to class, she had a few different sketches and told me to choose what pattern I wanted to make. I chose the one I wanted, and her reaction was “That’s the American one.”

It was a subconscious thing, but when I looked at the designs again, it was true. The one I picked did have the same style as traditional American quilting. It was balanced and symmetrical. Most traditional Korean pieces made with this technique are much more modern looking.

red and green reversible pojagi mat.

After I started stitching it, I soon realized why this difference exists.

Reversible patchwork is a totally different animal to regular patchwork with a backing. 

It would have been fine if I did not care about matching the corners, but I have just enough quilting OCD that I really wanted them to match.

close up of reversible patchwork stitching.
close up of patchwork.

Normally in hand-stitching it is easy to get corners to match. It is pretty easy to fudge the little fractions of inches that you need.

But with reversible patchwork, it is different. There are corners on both the front and the back to align. In the middle of the piece it wasn’t too bad, but as I progressed, it got harder and harder. I would think I had it aligned, only to find out that it was off on one side.

reversible patchwork mat.

I stuck to it and ripped out the seams to re-do that ones that didn’t work. I have never ripped out as many seams as I did in this piece.

I am proud of it, because I know how much work went into it. To western quilters, it seems like it would be a simple piece to do, but this is a case where it is more difficult than it appears.

Now I know why reversible patchwork is usually more random and modern looking and that traditional patterns don’t always translate to reversible patchwork.

Elizabeth DeCroos

Elizabeth DeCroos

designer, teacher, speaker

Elizabeth enjoys doing all types of sewing and needlework and teaching others new techniques. For more information or to have her speak to your group click HERE.

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